Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ba'get Argus building for Vietnamese Tapas and Tales

Shop 3
284-294 La Trobe Street
VIC 3000

I was grateful to receive an invite from Duy the CEO of Ba'get to come to a Vietnamese 'Tapas and Tales' evening at the Argus Building Branch on the corner of La Trobe and Elizabeth streets. The smaller dishes are a new move for the Ba'get restaurants, aiming to diversify from their current offerings which attract more of a lunchtime crowd. We were going to get the opportunity to try all of the new offerings which are all prepared and cooked by the team.

We kicked off with a 'Mekong Breeze' cocktail which adds mint, lime, ginger and ice to a rum base, giving it a flavour kick to go along with spirit. Duy told us a little of the origins of the family business which stretch back to the Mekong river delta in Vietnam where his father and grandmother started selling bánh mì to support a large family after his grandfather had passed away. Later after arriving in Australia as refugees the family had run bakeries and restaurants in Footscray and beyond, before moving into the city and setting up two branches of Ba'get with more to follow now in Werribee and Watergardens.

The first dish to arrive was the salt and pepper whitebait, which packed in lots of fishy flavour into the crispy coating with a hint of spice.

Next up we were challenged to make our own rice paper rolls, with the ingredients coming out first... 

...along with the cleverly designed combined rice paper holder and dipping device, the water is in the reservoirs on either side of the central paper holder. One of the tricks is only to wet the rice paper briefly all over, before removing while still firm. It will then continue softening as it sits on the plate being assembled. 

Next we added the lettuce, herbs, vermicelli picked carrot and pork and were ready to roll...

... I don't think I did too badly for a first attempt. The freshness was obvious upon biting into it, and everyone around the table enjoyed the process and result.

It's obvious why Mama's chicken wings have made it onto the menu, with a fantastic crisp coating and succulent white meat inside.

The salt and pepper calamari was another popular dish and board was soon empty. There was added kick in the chilli mayo dip which complimented the tender and rings and tentacles.

The pomme frites came with mayo, and were well executed. By now I was accompanying my meal with a 333 Vietnamese beer, bring back memories of time spent there.

The pork and taro spring rolls were a creamy and mellow twist on the classic dish.

The Vietnamese coleslaw with chicken, was served with prawn crackers to eat it in and turned out to be another table favourite.

The spicy prawn twists were filled with decent chunks of crustacean wrapped in a handy way to eat.

The sweet potato fries were super soft inside with enough crunch and subtle five spice flavours on the outside to make them very moreish! We also got to try the gin and lychee based Peaceful Dragon cocktail with lemon grass and chilli to heat things up despite the ice.

The final dish was the grilled meat balls which were nicely caramelised and the last few were finished, despite what had been a generously sized shared feast!

We finished of with a traditional iced coffee, not something I've really been a fan of in the past, but this converted me! 

The decor has a modern and funky twist on the Vietnamese theme.

The evening was an tasty and enjoyable intro to the new tapas dishes being introduced at Ba'get and I think I'll be heading back with the better half! The beer and cocktails complimented the fresh flavours, I'll be unsurprised if the new menu is a success. Our host and the fellow diners from a variety of backgrounds, both bloggers and regulars/friends added to the occasion.

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